Human Rights Watch accuses Greek authorities of beating migrants

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Greek authorities have been accused of returning asylum seekers with fast-track procedures and using violence, according to a report issued by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) who also released footage and photos of men with scars on their backs, as it accuses Greek police of inflicting beatings on migrants entering the country from Turkey.

The US-based group claims the injuries depicted in the footage are shot in Edirne in Turkey in August and were sustained during attacks by Greek police engaged in alleged “pushbacks” of people in the north-eastern Evros region.

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According to reports, HRW interviewed 26 asylum seekers and migrants from various countries. The interviewees reported incidents in Evros and hostile or violent behaviour by Greek police and unidentified groups wearing masks and unmarked uniforms.

In seven cases, the police or members of the unidentified groups reportedly took away the persons' shoes and clothes and sent them back to Turkey often in freezing temperatures. An Afghan mother of two also told HRW that the Greek authorities withheld her two children's shoes. In twelve other cases, migrants and asylum seekers said they were robbed of their belongings, including money and personal documents.

The testimonies the HRW collected are part of a series of formal accusations made by NGOs operating in Greece, all of which mention foul play and fast-track return procedures in Evros.

HRW sent its findings to the head of the border guard police in the region, who denied that the Hellenic Police refouls asylum seekers and said that all legal procedures are observed at the border.

The organisation called on the Greek authorities to investigate the allegations thoroughly and in a transparent manner.